WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

February 28, 2013

WordFood of Happiness

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 7:39 am

What does it mean to be happy?

You may define happiness as getting what you want, being treated well, having things go your way. It’s easy to be pleased and comfortable with the world when life is treating you well. Your self talk is pleasant, you feel on top of the world, everything is good and right.

However, what happens when things go to hell in a handbasket? The kids act up, the boss is a jerk, the wife or husband or significant other is unhappy and points out your many faults or even leaves you, the business goes down the tubes, you have misfortune of some kind that sideswipes your life. Suddenly life isn’t so great any more and you most certainly aren’t happy.

Most of us go into a funk. Our self talk and how we look at the world turns dark. We blame ourselves for our failures and we’re angry at our circumstances. Our thinking gets negative and circular, like we’re in jail, often because we are- the jail of our own negative thinking.

Life just happens, good or bad. Thoughts just come to you, good or bad. What defines happiness, ultimately, is your ability to keep a space inside yourself which is above external circumstances. A quiet space which recognizes your goodness, your value to the Universe no matter what the external circumstances are. This can be very difficult if you’re going through tough financial times or a divorce. Yet you can’t wait until  you’re “feeling better” to develop this space inside you. You need it now, right now, because these times come to us all.

Begin with everyday self talk, the WordFood of respect for your own inherent value. You have a right to be here. External circumstances do not define who you are. What you act upon defines you. How you treat yourself and others defines  you. Bad circumstances and bad thoughts will come and go; they are a part of life. Your happiness depends entirely on how you can rise above the everyday calamities, the ups and downs, and find that internal peace. Knowing you are valued no matter your circumstances is the key to happiness.

February 19, 2013

WordFood of Accounts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 7:34 am

All day long people irritate and annoy us. During the work day or in our interactions with family, small and big issues come up, and we find ourselves put off by someone’s lack of courtesy, respect, or regard for our feelings. Their words hurt, offend, insult. Many times, it’s easy to hang on to these offenses and they build, until such time as we have a very large bank account of hurts that we hold against a person. All the slights, the insults over time. These give us our right to harbor anger, bitterness, and a slew of ugly feelings against someone- or a great many people- because we feel we are owed better treatment.

This is called holding “accounts.”

The truth is that this is like taking poison and hoping that others will suffer for it-yet we are the ones who are suffering the damage of the poison. The ugly thoughts and vengefulness is coursing through us, not them. In many cases these people have no idea what they have done if we haven’t expressed our feelings, haven’t gently drawn a line in the sand because we’re a people pleaser or we’re afraid of confrontation. Perhaps you continue through your days week after week, month after month, until you ultimately explode on the other person, in such an expression of bile and viciousness that the relationship ends abruptly. And they are mystified and hurt, because they didn’t see this coming.

There is a way to completely cancel these accounts, but it takes courage, and the willingness to see the gift that others bring us. If you are willing, every time someone does something that is hurtful or insulting, to immediately ask yourself: “where do I see this in myself?” you can stop the buildup of anger right away. The truth is that people are mirrors to our own behavior. Whatever is done to us, we likely have done to others, that same potential exists in us. To admit that this exists in our humanness is humbling, and it also cancels any accounts that might build with someone else. And it’s immediately freeing.

The other day I was slightly late to an appointment with my coach, and when I got to his office I made a little joke. “The only time you get stuck behind a little old lady with her foot on the brake is when you’re late,” I said, trying to be funny. He pointed out, “How many times have you driven people behind you crazy when you’ve gone slowly, looking for an address?” Point taken. It was a small account, but an account nonetheless. They happen all day long, any time we feel anger with others.

If you are willing to face your irritation or hurt and realize that this is an opportunity to see this feature in yourself, and that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the other person, you can immediately let the emotion go. You can live free of bitterness, anger and ugly thoughts. Free of accounts. It has nothing to do with forgiveness, it has only to do with seeing yourself as you are, not some idealized view of being right all the time. And that leads to true joy.

February 13, 2013

A Gift of WordFood

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 6:27 pm

He was tall and lanky, and wore black sweatpants and a sweatshirt. He covered his head with a ball cap. What caught my eye about him was his sudden swing to the top of the pull up bar, which required considerable strength and agility. It wasn’t something you usually saw at Bally’s. I stopped what I was doing and watched. He repeated the fluid, challenging movement four more times. Impressive. He let himself down gently, and took a break on one of the chest press benches.

Not long afterwards I was doing some shoulder presses when I again caught him out of the corner of my eye. This time he was doing pullups but at the top he was pulling his entire body up and over to the side. Again, this took far more strength and agility than a simple pullup, and it was a beautiful thing to watch. I put my weights down and enjoyed watching this quiet young man work. Over and over, he maneuvered his body into aerial positions that demanded great physical discipline and power.

When he finished, I put my dumbbells away and approached him. He had the wide open, friendly face of someone in his late teens or early twenties, and he pulled out his ear buds as I approached. I told him that he was a pure joy to watch, that his athleticism and his grace were fantastic. I added that nobody at the gym did the things that he did, and for me it was a delight to watch him in motion. His face filled with joy. Then he gave me his gift. He pulled up the fabric on his left leg and there were huge,  horrible scars. It looked as though someone had sewn his entire foot back on. Clearly this young man was coming back from a horrendous accident.

He looked at me, face full of appreciation, and said “You don’t know how much that means to me.” And I said that it meant a great deal to me, to see what he was doing with himself, and how brave he was. Whatever this young man has been through, he has met it, faced it, and overcome it, and is showing the rest of us at the gym how to express physicality with power, grace and courage.

This wonderful young man reminded me that we never know what others are going through, what they have endured, and how important it is to acknowledge them whether we know their journey or not. The key thing is to feed others the compliments they deserve. Every so often you will receive a gift in return that will more than return the favor, it will shift your life.

There is no guarantee that others will accept your words. But most often people are hungry for sincere WordFood, and it will strike fertile ground. Even if it doesn’t, your intent is what matters, and that is enough.

February 12, 2013

Truthful WordFood for Customers

Last year was an exciting time, as I was preparing to re-enter the world of scuba diving after a long hiatus away. In 2002 I had gone to Africa for an adventure dive and during an interview with a professional diver, had bought a Poseidon regulator from him at a deep discount. This regulator would normally retail at around $700 and they normally last about 25 years or more. Poseidon is one of the world’s best manufacturers with an excellent reputation. Mine had been in the basement for 10 years, so I took it to the dive shop closest to me.

They tested it and it had a free flowing air problem. The manager told me that I’d have to replace it, that there were no Poseidon dealers in this country and that no one repaired them. I was looking at a major investment, and I didn’t have the cash to do it just then. I continued with my pool skills with their instructor and planned to rent the gear in country.

However, I mentioned this to the instructor. He said, without directly contradicting the manager, that I might check into it more thoroughly. I went to Poseidon.com and immediately saw that Denver Divers not only was a Poseidon dealer but they also handled repairs, just a few miles away. I called them and talked to their repair guy. Very quickly we discerned that my problem was a simple fix, well under $200, and I took my reg to them that same day.

The other thing about the original dive shop manager was that he constantly harangued me about money. Pool time with the instructor cost, and so did solo pool time. I paid in advance or right on time. As a small business owner myself, I’m sensitive to issues of cash flow. This habit of coming after me for $25 got incredibly annoying- and combined with the dishonesty about the Poseidon dealership and repair availability made the shop’s accessibility to my house far less important than his money grubbing.

What became perfectly clear after my dealings with Denver Divers was that this was a family owned shop that cared about the relationship first. That speaks to safety and the comfort of knowing you’re going to be cared about. These dive shop owners know that many of us can buy gear on line for less. They have to find other ways to engage us, earn our trust, and in the process, we will want to reward them by buying from them and going on trips with them. The other dive shop manager, by lying outright about the regulator, in a world where a couple of clicks online will instantly prove him wrong, lost a customer and also, I tell others about it, too. These owners all know each other, so ignorance is no excuse. It’s a small community.

I’m old school in that I will first take someone’s word for granted. I’m glad I asked my instructor and did the research. A few extra miles’ drive is a small price to pay to work with friends and go on trips where your wallet isn’t the main point of interest.

In a tough economy, it is ever more important to put people first. To feed people WordFood that makes them feel valued and important. It’s the customer relationship that brings us back. I was reminded of Miracle on 34th Street, where Santa told customers where to find the best deal, and the store earned many repeat customers. Had the original manager helped me find a repair shop, he’d have earned my trust, and my loyalty. Instead, the exchange was toxic, and irretrievable.

Customers have access to too much information for a brick and mortar shop not to treat them with respect. Loyalty is earned, and we will give it back, where a business owner doesn’t grasp. When we go out of our way to serve delicious WordFood, customers will always come back for more.

February 4, 2013

WordFood in Any Language

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 4:12 pm

Sometimes despite our best efforts, we get misunderstood. Suffice it to say that when we travel, this is especially true. I just got back from a month in Costa Rica, where English is widely spoken. That is, until I stepped into a wonderful little textiles shop in La Fortuna, a town that has grown up around the Arenal volcano in the north central part of the country.

Now this town is very small, and it’s mostly a lineup of tourist touts and overpriced restaurants. There are tacky souvenir shops and the occasional Tico place to eat where you can get authentic Costa Rican food. But for the most part it is a purely tourist town, with tourist prices, and you don’t expect to find much else. Then I stumbled into a bit of paradise.

A Guatamalan woman had a shop on the main street that was chock full of the most amazing textiles you could imagine. All the shelves from floor to ceiling were lined with hand embroidered runners, blankets, wall hangings and placemats of the most uproarious colors and designs. I was transported to Ecuador where I had been the previous January, and was blown away by the variations of theme, color and expression. Each was a unique work, a treasure. No matter what I pulled out, I wanted it. And her prices were well below what I had paid in Ecuador, by half again. I was deeply impressed.

This determined, diminuitive woman in indigenous dress walked over to me and I did my best, in halting Spanish, to express to her that I had seen something similar in Ecuador. I was complimentary about her pricing and her work. However, whatever I said wasn’t what she heard. She drew herself up to her full 5′ height and said with great emphasis that her work was authentic, indigenous, and took the pieces out my hand and put them back on the shelf. Then she turned her back to me and sat down.

Any attempt to speak with her after that was met with “no intiendo” – I don’t understand you- and it didn’t matter that I desperately wanted to buy some things from this one of a kind shop. Defeated, I left.

When I returned to my hostel and told my proprietor about what had happened, he laughed. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who received the cold shoulder. Proud and “hard” according to him, this hard scrabble woman made all her lovely things on site, and was deservedly pleased with her results. She would brook no comparisons to anything else anywhere else in the world. And if she decided she didn’t like you, you were out the door. Sale or no sale.

I was sad, of course, for my intent had been to create a connection, pay a compliment and make a purchase. However with a delicate ego involved, the challenges of language are even more difficult. Sometimes our best attempts at what I call Energy Enhancers, or compliments, go awry. I never found a similar store in the rest of the country, and I looked. My travels aren’t over. But this lesson will stick. What I had to look at was whether I was trying to impress her with my knowledge (perhaps) or really trying to pay her a compliment (I was). It was good to look at true intent. I offended her nonetheless, and came home without my souvenir, but with perhaps a larger prize, which was greater humility.  And that is always worth having.

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